|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: CHRISTI HARLAN|
|Thursday, March 22, 2001||202-224-0894|
The Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs voted today to approve S. 149, the Export Administration Act of 2001, with amendments that would strengthen both its national security and trade promotion provisions. A package of amendments developed in consultation with the Bush Administration includes changes that would give the administration flexibility in the control of computer exports and raise penalties for criminal violations of export controls to at least five times the penalties under current law.
"With these changes, S. 149 represents a positive step towards the reform of the U.S. export control system supported by the President," said national security advisor Condoleezza Rice in a letter on behalf of the Bush administration that specifically cites support for the bill from the Secretaries of State, Defense and Commerce.
The bill, introduced January 23, would provide the legal framework for the executive branch to implement export controls on non-military items for both national security and foreign policy reasons. The current export control authority expires on August 20.
"Congress has tried many times to reauthorize the Export Administration Act without success," Gramm said. "Today, we are closer to success than we have ever been. It is a testament to this committee that if we decide that we're going to get something done and work with everybody in goodwill, we can get something done.
"I want to thank Dr. Rice for her leadership on this issue," Gramm said. "Without her, we wouldn't be where we are today.
"This is a simple bill in the sense that it is based on a belief that we want the United States to be the leader in high-tech development and employment while, at the same time, we protect the technologies that could be used to harm us or our allies," Gramm said. "I believe we have met those goals with this bill. It is a good, solid product."
Among the amendments approved by the committee was a provision, offered by Gramm and sponsored by Sens. Bob Bennett and Harry Reid, that would do away with the outmoded standard for controlling computer exports based on the measure of millions of theoretical operations per second (MTOPS). The bill would now give the administration the flexibility to set its own standards for computer exports.
The committee also approved an amendment that would raise the penalties for violations of export controls and bring them more in line with the Arms Export Control Act, which deals with military items. For example, the bill would set a penalty of $5 million or 10 times the value of the exports, whichever is greater, for a company that willfully violates the Export Administration Act. Current law sets the penalty at $1 million or five times the value of the exports.